House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Joliette (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Facilitating the Transfer of Family Farm or Fishing Corporations Act March 26th, 2015

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-661, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of family farm or fishing corporation).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to submit to the House the study of the facilitating the transfer of family farm or fishing corporations act.

Many of the farm and fishing corporations in Canada exist because of families that have sacrificed everything for their passion. I know farmers in my region who live on land that has been passed down through nine generations. This bill will help these families keep their traditions alive by recognizing the interdependence that unites the brothers and sisters who take up the torch.

This minor but essential correction to the Income Tax Act will facilitate the intergenerational transfer of agricultural corporations. Many people in the agricultural sector have been asking for this change, and it is critical to the economy of our regions.

I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting our farmers and implementing a simple solution to a serious problem. Having been a farmer myself, I am very happy to be introducing this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

National Fiddling Day Act March 25th, 2015

“Now, what would you kids like me to play for you?”

Mr. Speaker, that is what my grandfather used to say every time he started playing when I was little. He got his violin out of its old case, and in the comforting glow of the wood stove that my grandmother cooked everything on, he played the strings that unite us to this day. The old farmhouse floors creaked under the dancing feet of all 20 of us grandchildren and the 16 adults who made up our extended family. That was in the 1950s, but I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Bill S-218 would designate national fiddling day, and I have to say that I am very happy to talk about this. Of course, it is a shame that Bill S-218 came from the Senate, not the House of Commons, but I fully support the idea of designating a national fiddling day.

From Newfoundland to British Columbia to Quebec and the Prairies, fiddling has been bringing people together all over Canada for a long time. The traditional music canon bears witness to the many waves of immigration to Canada, making the fiddle the ultimate inclusive instrument.

Fiddling draws on so many sources, and we can detect the influence of Scottish and Irish communities as well as French and Ukrainian ones in the pieces we play here in Canada. The instrument has fostered cultural fusions that are now part of our shared culture. Consider the very famous Quebec folk music group, Le rêve du diable, whose name comes from a reel, an Irish dance, called The Devil's Dream.

Creating this national day represents an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of the fiddle in our communities. It definitely plays a very important role in my riding, Joliette. For many people, Joliette is synonymous with music. Our slogan is “Joliette, sol de musique”. We have the renowned Festival de Lanaudière, which brings together the finest classical musicians from here and around the world every year to play in a superb amphitheatre with incredible acoustics.

I invite all members of the House to join us at Festival de Lanaudière, which is held in late July and early August. Of course, the musicians are sheltered on stage, but the lawn can accommodate between 7,000 and 8,000 people. Spectators can enjoy their supper while listening to the music.

Our beautiful region has been a springboard for many traditional groups, including some you may have heard of: Bottine souriante, Belzébuth, les Poules à Colin and Les charbonniers de l'enfer. They did not all start in Joliette, but many of them developed there and recorded albums or performed their first shows there.

I appreciate the merits and beauty of the classical violin every year at the festival in Lanaudière, but the fiddle allows for more spontaneity, which makes it more accessible. I am pleased that we have this opportunity to talk about the social role it has played in our communities. The fiddler is more than a musician; he or she brings people together and is a communicator, a focal point that connects everyone. When fiddlers come together they can improvise reels for hours, to the delight of the toe-tappers around them.

In families, at lumber camps, at Christmas and Hallowe'en, the fiddle has made a tremendous contribution to Canada's heritage and development. It has helped weave Canada's social and cultural fabric and I am very pleased that we are recognizing the importance of that contribution.

In the riding of Joliette, traditional music is still an important part of our culture today, as you can see at the Mémoires et Racines festival held at the end of July. What is more, the Joliette CEGEP has made a name for itself by offering a specialized program in traditional music. We also have a radio station back home that plays nothing but traditional music.

You must also go to Saint-Côme to appreciate the importance of our traditional music, because in that area music groups are named after families. These families have their own particular style of singing, moving and interacting. The strong presence of traditional music, and thus of fiddling, is indisputable in Joliette.

Fiddling is important and prevalent throughout the entire Lanaudière region. Not very far from my riding, you will find the Camp de Violon Traditionnel Québécois de Lanaudière, a wonderful asset for the entire region. Its president, the talented fiddler André Brunet, supports this bill. In highlighting the role of fiddling in Quebec culture, he said:

If any instrument is as authentic as our emotions in the whirl and swirl of a gathering, it is certainly the violin, an integral part of the dance that sweeps us away, that brings us together and tugs at our heartstrings.

Mr. Brunet added:

Each of us is a fiddler at heart.

The president of the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Association, Graham Sheppard, also supports this bill. He said:

Amid the turmoil that surrounds us and the difficult decisions that this House has to make, it is refreshing to stand and be part of this effort. For the thousands of fiddlers and lovers of fiddle music in Canada, a National Fiddling Day will be a cherished annual event. Also, this will give each of us the encouragement to foster the preservation and growth of fiddle music in the regions that we represent and throughout Canada.

In my opinion, these comments from people in the community show that this proposal has a lot of support and a laudable goal. I spoke about my grandfather, but I am sure that many members of the House had fiddlers in their families. That is why this bill is getting so much support. I am sure that everyone here will vote in favour of it.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is good news for Canadian heritage. I encourage everyone in the House to support this bill.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I remind the government that the NDP is supporting this bill at third reading.

We know that the RCMP already has a hard time keeping criminal records up to date because they do not have adequate resources. How does the Conservative government think the RCMP can do all of this extra work effectively without additional resources?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I have a quick question for him.

The government wants to amend the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that the spouses of the accused would be competent and compellable witnesses for the prosecution in child pornography cases. Why?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for reminding us of the terrible tragedy that that family endured.

He is quite right; the women would have been deported back to their home country. That man would have been sent back as well, without any penalty. He could have continued doing what he always did, which was punish the women for not listening to him. Here in Canada, those days are over.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, why introduce a bill when we already have everything we need to protect women and all Canadians? Why introduce a bill that will create even more difficulties for women and children who are victims of violence? Why introduce this bill? We already have everything we need. We just have to strengthen the laws that already exist. Why criminalize women in polygamous marriages, who will then be forced to return to their home countries? I do not understand that.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what I am hearing is that those of us on this side never understand bills, as though we were not smart enough to figure out that yes, there is a serious problem with passing this bill. Women will continue to be victimized, and they will be deported to their countries of origin where they will continue to be abused, raped and killed.

We are against this bill, period.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we will talk about Bill S-7, but we will do so under the 91st gag order.

Considering what I heard earlier, before the vote, I hope that some people are watching us debate once again under a gag order.

I am pleased to rise today to share my opinion on Bill S-7. However, as in many cases in the past, I think the Conservatives are proposing an inadequate solution to a problem they see. This results in the politicization of a serious problem, and that is deplorable, to say the least.

Just look at the short title: Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. They must really like sensationalizing things to include those kinds of expressions in our legislation. I think such a title promotes xenophobia in Canada and does not allow for a fair assessment of the problem.

Of course, I strongly oppose polygamy, forced and early marriages, and gender-based violence. I am a feminist and I have been fighting for women's rights for nearly 40 years, so of course I am not okay with forcing girls to marry.

In my family, some of my mother's sisters had to get married at 16 because families were large and these girls had to leave home. They had to leave because of the attitudes of the era. However, that does not mean that these women wanted to get married at 16 or 17 and be forced to have a dozen children.

This started to change with my generation, because women worked to forge a better society for themselves and for men as well.

That said, this is all about how we solve these problems. The experts who appeared before the Senate committee said that criminalization alone would not solve this problem and, on the contrary, it could make it worse. Why criminalize people who ultimately are victims of a certain mindset?

Instead of trying to score political points by fostering xenophobia, which does not involve much thought, the government could strengthen existing legislation. It should also undertake to implement a national action plan to combat violence against women and invest more in organizations that provide assistance to women who are victims of sexual violence.

At present, many aboriginal women are raped or murdered and disappear. However, nothing is being done about that.

The government is, quite simply, not on the right track to help women, who are the real victims of sexual violence. No woman should be subjected to gender-based violence, forced marriage or underage marriage.

Unfortunately, this bill may also have serious unintended consequences, including the criminalization of victims of polygamy, the criminalization and deportation of children, and the separation of families. Why criminalize the victims of polygamy? I do not understand. Perhaps we will get some answers to that today.

This is simply not the right approach, since we are missing an opportunity to do what we should be doing: protecting victims.

The Conservatives do not care about the plight of victims of gender-based violence because they would rather exploit these victims to promote their agenda focused on intolerance and sensationalism. They are prepared to sacrifice the future of women who are the victims of gender-based violence, all to score a few points, and in doing so they are affecting all of Canada by fuelling xenophobia.

Xenophobia leads to knee-jerk reactions, and when people fall prey to that mindset, they no longer think. That is why the Conservatives love to fuel xenophobia, since it allows them to score a few easy points.

I want to appeal to the intelligence of the Canadians watching us today. Instead of promoting a sensationalist bill that will not fix anything, should the minister not undertake some serious consultations? I am obviously talking about some real, serious consultations.

In my opinion, the government should hold extensive consultations in co-operation with community groups and experts in order to find an effective solution to the problem of gender-based violence. These groups could give us a lot of assistance in drafting a bill that protects women from violence.

If the government were acting in a thoughtful manner, it would also invest more in the organizations that provide support services, such as safe and affordable housing and assistance for families. Perhaps if we were to try to eradicate poverty and help families, there might be less violence and attitudes would change with time.

Just for a minute, let us put ourselves in the shoes of victims of gender-based violence. Imagine a young immigrant woman who just barely speaks Canada's official languages. If she speaks just one of the two languages, it can be hard for her to understand all of our bills and laws. She must defend herself in a complicated justice system and cope with immigration rules that are hard to understand. She needs some help. Instead, the government will tell her that what she is doing is barbaric and that she is the problem. For hundreds of years we have been hearing that women are to blame for violence against women.

This young immigrant woman will have to fight even harder against a government that could tear apart her family, deport her or separate her from her children. That is not the right solution. Gender-based violence is a very serious issue, and we cannot exploit these victims' misery for the sake of meaningless sensationalism.

The victims of gender-based violence—primarily women and children—need support, assistance and attention. They do not need to be turned into criminals overnight. These victims did not choose their situation, so we must help them through it instead of pushing them even further into despair.

There are a number of aspects of the current bill that could have devastating consequences. For example, the bill does not contain any provisions to allow women who are conditional permanent residents to remain in Canada if their polygamist partner is deported. That is a very clear sign that the government is going after victims. Furthermore, the bill does not allow for the reunification of families in instances where a polygamist man immigrates with one of his wives and all of his children, effectively separating mothers and children. UNICEF has also expressed concerns that the bill would impose criminal sanctions against minors who celebrate a forced marriage. Starting a life with a forced marriage is hard enough, but adding a criminal record on top of that is even worse.

Another pernicious effect of the bill is that it could impede the work of groups fighting forced marriages and gender-based violence. Criminalization does have that “tough on crime” angle that the Conservatives like, but there is a major downside to it too. Criminalization will prevent many victims—women and children—from coming forward for fear of being deported or having a criminal record. As a result, it will be hard to do anything for these families, and the problem could end up getting worse.

Another problem with this bill is that it does not take into account the fact that immigrant women often have significantly less information about the rules than their sponsoring partners, which exposes them to threats and manipulation.

We want victims of forced and underage marriage to be exempt from the requirements of conditional permanent residence. We also want to enable the wives and children of an individual who is deported for having misled authorities about his marital status to remain in Canada where they have settled. We need to eliminate the amendments to the Criminal Code and allow children who are left behind in their home country by a father who dissolves a polygamous marriage to be eligible for immigration. Finally, we need to provide prevention and support services for victims of gender-based violence.

For all of these reasons, and in light of the shortcomings of Bill S-7, I have no choice but to oppose the bill.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for her speech.

Ten minutes is not a lot of time to get one's point across. Does the hon. member want to add anything she did not have time to say, but is important for Canadians to know?

Business of Supply March 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his compelling speech. It is clear that he feels strongly about what he just said.

We in the NDP want to reduce the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%. I wonder if he could briefly explain how this measure would benefit small businesses.